Throat anatomy

The throat includes the esophagus, windpipe (trachea), voice crate (larynx), tonsils and also epiglottis.

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Epiglottitis is a possibly life-threatening problem that occurs once the epiglottis — a little cartilage "lid" the covers your windpipe — swells, blocking the circulation of air right into your lungs.

A variety of factors can reason the epiglottis to swell — burns from hot liquids, direct injury to your throat and various infections. The most common cause of epiglottitis in children in the previous was infection through Haemophilus influenzae kind b (Hib), the same bacterium that reasons pneumonia, meningitis and infections in the bloodstream. Epiglottitis can take place at any kind of age.

Routine Hib vaccination for infants has actually made epiglottitis rare, but the condition remains a concern. If you doubt that friend or someone in your family members has epiglottitis, seek emergency help immediately. Note treatment can prevent life-threatening complications.

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Symptoms in children

In children, signs and also symptoms the epiglottitis may construct within a matter of hours, including:

Fever serious sore neck Abnormal, high-pitched sound once breathing in (stridor) complicated and pains swallowing Drooling Anxious, restless actions Feeling much better when sitting up or leaning front

Symptoms in adults

For adults, signs and symptoms might develop more slowly, end days fairly than hours. Signs and also symptoms might include:

severe sore throat heat A muffled or hoarse voice Abnormal, high-pitched sound once breathing in (stridor) an obstacle breathing challenge swallowing Drooling

When to view a doctor

Epiglottitis is a medical emergency. If girlfriend or who you recognize suddenly has trouble breathing and swallowing, speak to your local emergency number or go to the nearest hospital emergency department. Shot to save the person quiet and upright, because this position might make it less complicated to breathe. Don"t shot to study the person"s throat yourself. This have the right to make problem worse.

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Epiglottitis is brought about by an infection or an injury.


In the past, a common cause of swelling and also inflammation the the epiglottis and surrounding tissues was infection through Haemophilus influenzae form b (Hib) bacteria. Hib is responsible because that a variety of serious conditions, the most usual of i m sorry is meningitis. Hib is now lot less usual in occurred countries as result of Hib immunization in children.

Hib spreads through infected droplets coughed or sneezed into the air. It"s possible to harbor Hib in your nose and throat without coming to be sick — though you still can spread the bacteria come others.

In adults, other bacteria and viruses additionally can reason inflammation of the epiglottis, including:

Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus), one more bacterium the can reason meningitis, pneumonia, ear infection and blood infection (septicemia) Streptococcus A, B and also C, a group of bacteria the can reason diseases varying from strep neck to blood infection Staphylococcus aureus, a bacter that reasons skin infections and also other conditions including pneumonia and toxic shock syndrome


Physical injury, such as a direct blow come the throat, can cause epiglottitis. So have the right to burns indigenous drinking really hot or corrosive liquids.

You likewise may build signs and also symptoms comparable to those that epiglottitis if you:

swallow a chemical that burns your neck Swallow a international object smoke drugs, such together crack cocaine

Risk factors

Certain components increase the risk of emerging epiglottitis, including:

Being male. Epiglottitis affects much more males than females. Having a weakened immune system. If your immune system has been dilute by condition or medication, you"re an ext susceptible to the bacter infections that may cause epiglottitis. Lacking adequate vaccination. delayed or skipped immunizations deserve to leave a child vulnerable to Hib and increases the hazard of epiglottitis.


Epiglottitis can reason a variety of complications, including:

Respiratory failure. The epiglottis is a small, movable "lid" just over the larynx that prevents food and drink from entering your windpipe. However if the epiglottis i do not care swollen — either from epidemic or indigenous injury — the airway narrows and may become completely blocked. This deserve to lead come respiratory failure — a life-threatening problem in i beg your pardon the level of oxygen in the blood fall dangerously low or the level that carbon dioxide becomes excessively high. Spreading infection. sometimes the bacteria that reason epiglottitis cause infections in other places in the body, such as pneumonia, meningitis or a bloodstream infection.


Hib vaccine

Immunization through the Hib vaccine is an effective method to prevent epiglottitis brought about by Hib. In the joined States, youngsters usually obtain the vaccine in 3 or four doses:

in ~ 2 month At 4 months At 6 month if your boy is being provided the four-dose vaccine at 12 to 15 months

The Hib vaccine is usually not given to kids older than age 5 or to adults because they"re much less likely to build Hib infection. However the Centers for condition Control and also Prevention proposal the vaccine for older children and adults whose immune systems have been dilute by:

Sickle cell disease HIV/AIDS Spleen removed Chemotherapy medicines to stop rejection of body organ or bone marrow transplants

Vaccine side effects

Allergic reaction. Seek instant medical aid if you have an allergy reaction. Though rare, an allergy reaction might cause difficulty breathing, wheezing, hives, weakness, a rapid heartbeat or dizziness in ~ minutes or a couple of hours after ~ the shot. Possible mild next effects.

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These include redness, warmth, swelling or pain at the injection site, and a fever.

Commonsense precautions

Of course, the Hib vaccine doesn"t sell guarantees. Vaccinated kids have been recognized to develop epiglottitis — and other germs can cause epiglottitis, too. That"s wherein commonsense precautions come in:

Don"t share personal items. Wash her hands frequently. Usage an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and also water aren"t available.

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